Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Adapting to Adagio

Adagio is a musical tempo for slow and stately (literally, *at ease*). One of the reason we enjoy rural Mississippi is because we can find that *at ease* tempo again. One does not just adapt to the adagio lifestyle over night. The first time I moved to rural Mississippi was nine months after Mark and I married, and I unfortunately down spiraled into depression. It was a multi-layered down spiral, living in the middle of no where wasn't the only reason I struggled, but it definitely was a contributing factor. It took three summers in Mississippi, seven full years in Mississippi, and two years in rural Virginia for me to finally "adapt" to adagio. When we moved back to Kansas City, I had no idea that I would have to adjust to city life again. I grew up in the city. I was a city girl. The city was coming home. I loved the city. I loved the life that poured out from city streets. I loved the hustle and bustle. Everything was so close. Everything was at your fingertips, so there was always some where to go and always something to do. I will always love the city, but some where deep inside I began to crave the stillness. I began to crave the quiet.

It is quiet here. There is much stillness to be found here. And I am very grateful!

I haven't shown many pictures of our perfectly, beautiful, house because we are just taking our sweet time getting settled. I figure if we are going to live here for the rest of our lives, I've got some time to figure out where I want things to go :) It's all apart of embracing the adagio for me. Typically, I would be going mad with unpacked boxes stacked in the living room still, but like I said in this post, there are WAY more important things for me to be investing my energy in right now, (i.e. SURVIVING).

Here is a little glimpse out our bedroom window. I love it. The trees kind of bend to an adagio melody while the slight breeze whispers, "stillness".

Although our house is no cover of Southern Living, y'all come see us anytime and embrace your own adagio!


picture from

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Ten or Tin?

In 1939, the Tin Man set out on an adventure to hunt for what he thought was the missing piece in his life, "I'd be gentle and sentimental, if I only had a heart!"

Today, our first born child, turns tin TEN!! When I think about her and all that the Lord has created her to be, first and foremost, I see this amazingly huge heart that just explodes out from her body. If you have ever been with Katie, then you know exactly what I am talking about. Most of the time she is more intuitive than people three times her age, she sees situations through the lens of gentle and sentimental. She represents every sweet and savory thing a ten year old should be.

There are days Mark looks at me and says, " I really feel like we are done parenting Katie, not that she doesn't need us for the rest of her life, but she pretty much already gets everything we were trying to get her to embrace."

On December 25th 2002, my mom had the high privilege of reading this poem to her entire family as a way of surprising them with the news that we were pregnant. Katie was the first grandchild on both sides of the family, and the first in her generation on my mom's side of the family; spoiled was an understatement. If you have journeyed with us for any amount of time you know why this poem is even more special to me today than ever before.

Mom reading the poem...

Twas the Night Before Christmas
by Zach Hall

Twas the night before Christmas
There was no one to see
Except a lovely woman
We call her Valerie.

Val slept in her bed
All curled up with cheer
With visions of Brian and Wayne
Sipping on their beer.

Christmas was here
And Val could not wait
To see Mark and Sara
And pinch their cute little face.

She jumped out of bed
And ran down the stairs
To find Mark and Sara
Sitting on their chairs.

Val jumped and she screamed
This Christmas was bright
Now that her kids were here
Everything would be alright.

Mark sat on Val's lap
She kissed his little face
They hugged and they laughed
It was a nice Christmas embrace.

He said to her quietly,
"As your only son-in-law,
I would like to congratulate you,
Sara and I have made you into a Grandma!"

In true Fry fashion the room erupted into tears and yelling immediately. The promise of a baby was too much. Katie has lived up to her promise in every way plus so much more.

In search of pictures, I dug out all five of the boxes labeled "Picture Albums" and of course after an hour of searching I could not find Katie's first baby album :( It's probably in a box labeled 'misc stuff' :)  So I tried my best to gather some pictures of the last tin TEN years....


It pretty much takes our breath away that you are turning TEN YEARS OLD TODAY! An entire decade of exploring one of the most precious creatures this world has ever been given. You never cease to surprise us with your thoughtfulness, your diligence, your desire for excellence in every area of your life, and most importantly the way you exhibit Jesus every day in word and in deed. You have taught your daddy and I more than we will ever be able to teach you. We are proud of you. We are blessed by you. We enjoy you. You make us laugh. You make us smile. You keep us on schedule, and on our toes. You bring a touch of sweetness to every person and every situation you come in contact with. We are unendingly grateful that you are our daughter.

We love you!
~Mama and Daddy

Grammy with Katie in the hospital

18 months old. Aunt Jo and Uncle Matt's wedding

Two years old at the beach

Welcoming Julia home (26 months)

Easter 2006 (32 months)

First birthday

3 months old

11 months old

11 months old

16 months old... Some of the men in her life!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Nine Months... And No Baby

Four times in the my life, nine months meant the most precious gift was waiting for me at the finish line.

Today, marks nine months without Mama. A very different nine months than when you are waiting for a baby,and I have a feeling we aren't even close to the finish line.

Really it has been nine months of surviving.

My Dad has this posted on his refrigerator. I am pretty sure it's how he keeps going. I am pretty sure it's how we all keep going.

Q: What is your only comfort in life and in death?

A: That I am not my own, but belong body and soul, in life and in death to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven; in fact, all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and make me wholeheartedly wiling and ready from now on to live for him.

My dearest friend, and in house therapist, shared this quote with me on Sunday, and we decided it has been the theme of my 2012-2013.

'Sometimes the healing is in aching'

Happy Aching, Happy Healing,

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

An Eight Legged Miracle

Anderson and I are slowly adjusting to our days together, it feels like I have an only child again, he thinks that it is now my full time job to entertain, and well that's just not going to happen :) Yesterday, he was thrilled to be able to pick whatever movie he wanted to watch without "the sisters" (as he refers to them now) getting in the way. He picked Charlotte's Web.  Towards the end of the movie Charlotte is dying and she and Wilbur have this wonderfully sweet conversation. It isn't exactly word for word from the book, but the screen writers rewrote it beautifully.

Charlotte: After all, what's a life, anyway? We're born, we live a little while, we die. A spider's life can't help being something of a mess.

Wilbur: Charlotte you can't die, I'll carry you back to the barn and take care of you. You've done so much for me! I've never done anything for you.

Charlotte: You made me your friend, and in doing so you made a spider beautiful to everyone in that barn. The web was no miracle, I was just describing what I saw. The miracle is you.

My heart titled at the line, "you made a spider beautiful to everyone in that barn!" I immediately thought about the verse in Ephesians 5, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless."

Christ made us beautiful to His Father. Not because of anything we did, not because of anything we didn't do, not because of anything we are going to do. It is quite evident humans can't help being something of a mess. Often we try and spin miracles in our own webs, we call our lives, by trying harder, being better, being the best you, breaking habits, starting new habits, following a new 12 step program to godliness, to cleanliness, to organizational"ness", to loveliness, to religiousness, to manliness, home-maker-ness, wifeliness, etc...etc.. But there is no miracle in our works, our works that are as dirty as menstrual rags. The only real miracle is what the Father is enamored with as he describes our lives in HIS web. He is neither focused on our weakness or our greatness, rather the apple of His eye is entranced by old rugged cross where His son sacrificially, obediently, and with great joy endured the weight of our messiness, so that our webs would be beautiful to everyone in the heavenly barns.

There are moments in my writing that I wrestle with God, "you really want me to write about a line from a child's movie? Really, there is meaty content there?" And today God graciously placed in my mundane walking path a miracle. We have walked out our back door hundreds of times since we have lived here, and this morning was the first time I had ever seen what I saw. It took my breath away, and I knew then and there, today I was suppose to write about spider webs.

There were at least twenty that we could count. A field of spider webs waiting to say "Good morning! Your God, our God, is in this day, is in your writing, and is a God of miracles!"

Now go, wait, and watch for the miracles being spun in your life!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Just Give Me the Dirt (Day 8)

I am not sure if "Just Give Me the Dirt" will turn into an actual series around here, but it is becoming apparent that our school adventures are going to offer a plethora of blog material! Therefore, a series title allows me to be lazy and not have to come up with a title every time I want to write about school happenings. It also cues you in to what I am writing about on that particular day, and if you are sick of school happenings you can move on.

I know, I know, that's so nice of me. :)

Dinner time is quickly emerging as my favorite time of the entire day. Our wonderful home has enough space that we can put the leaf back in our dining room table, and we can all comfortably lounge around it again. School sedates the girls enough during the day that dinner time is not as insane as it once was (with that said our standard for insane probably looks different than most). The kids have been spilling the beans about all the details of their day (thankfully we learned with Katie's experience at Riverview, that we believe about 50% of what they say, crossing our fingers and hoping that the teachers believe 50% of what our girls say about their home life :) Most nights Mark and I laugh so hard we almost pee our pants. For instance, Lucy spent an entire meal recanting her experience about a 'friend boy' who desperately wanted to be her boyfriend. "Mom, he followed me around the play ground at recess and stared at me all day long. Finally, I  was forced to say to him, 'We are in the first grade, and in our family we don't do love in the first grade!'" To which the boy responded, "You're right we are too young for love!" *high fives all around* A small parenting success on both sides of the coin.

After dinner, Katie and Lucy role-played for all of us the proper responses to a boy's advances. Katie dropped to her knees to be Lucy's height, dropped her voice to imitate the boy, toddled around the living room floor reenacting Lucy being chased at recess, and then they proceeded to have the most hilarious interaction. I told Mark we should have videoed it, it would have gone viral. It included lines like, "If you want to date me you have to go talk to my daddy!" (We are hoping this will keep the boys away for at least another twenty years. :). "My daddy is very big and strong!"(We are hoping this also remains true for the next twenty years) "I tell my parents everything!" (another small parenting victory!) And the one liner that saved her earlier in the day from the unwanted Prince Charming, "We don't do love in the first grade!"
Katie fell to ground with a fake, broken heart. HI.LAR.I.OUS!

In our wee eight days of brick and mortar school, we have already covered the following topics; bullying, racism, and love. WHEW! I am already 911 calling all my friends who have gone before seeking advice and immediate prayers!

Mark and I believe in full, age appropriate disclosure. Each topic addressed with LOTS of honesty. But I have to tell you the way my husband ended the "love" topic almost had me in tears, "Girls, God made it for boys to chase after you. It is a really good, healthy, and natural thing for men to pursue women. It's not gross or bad, the problem is it is just not the right time in any of your lives for you to be chased."  * insert Mama sob*

Mark and I both know that there is potential that some day (30 years from now *wink, wink*) when some boy thinks he is brave enough, (only because is in intoxicated with love), to come talk to Mark about 'being in love' and then the real drama begins ;)!

In the meantime, we are soaking up these round table discussions. Hoping to communicate to our kids that this place, (around the actually square table) is safe, special, and secure.

I sat around a square table for almost 20 years spilling the beans to my family, and to do this day I still love sitting around that table talking with my family about all the dirt!!

So here's to table talking!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

A Mom Story!

Several people have asked recently, "Now, that all three girls are in school, what are you doing with yourself?" Honestly, I feel like life is even busier now than before. The days are a lot longer, but different. Totally different. There are so many more silent moments built in to my days. The last few years silence and stillness have been missing ingredients in my life. There is nothing I would necessarily change about the last season we have walked through, I just see now how much I missed the silence. I thought maybe coming home to a quiet house after dropping the girls off at school would break my heart. It's not :) It's so refreshing to sit in the silence and be still. It is so incredible to sit here at my computer writing, without a monkey on my back, a child interrupting asking me a million school related questions, and having to stop my train of thought to go break up a fight. For years, "quiet time" (90 minutes a day where all the kids had to be in their rooms) saved my life. But the older they got and the more intense school became, "quiet" went out the window. If my best photography friend was here she could do a lifestyle photo of the before and after. Before would be the one with me writing at the computer with four children stacked all around me. And the after would be the one of me sitting all alone at my desk, with AJ passed out in his bed. It really is a slice of heaven. I am hoping the silence will produce richer writing from me, and more opportunities to write, and really, I would like to work towards writing with fewer mistakes, but until I hire an editor, prepare yourself for my messed-up-ness. :)!

This post has been brewing since we left Kansas.

The Saturday we loaded the Penske, we spent the night at my dad's house. We had not had a slumber at Poppo's since we had moved from Virginia to Kansas in July of 2009, two years almost exactly. We spent tons of time at my dad's in those two years, but we had no reason to spend the night there because we had our own home to crash at. That night as we got ready for bed a lump formed in my throat and I got sucker punched from no where (as most sucker punches go) tears began to build, I realized that this would be our first sleep over at Grammy and Poppo's, without Grammy. Reality. Later in the evening as everyone was a sleep I needed to find some toilet paper. My dad keeps his toilet paper in the basement, so I quietly opened the basement and tip-toed down the stairs to find it, but about half way down the steps I felt the presence of my mom so strongly I almost couldn't finish walking down the stairs. Mom and Dad's basement is filled with boxes of a life time. Boxes from a marriage of almost 40 years, boxes of with the remnants of raising five children, boxes from a long legacy of love literature, and loving people. And boxes now filled with memories of mom so potent you almost can't breathe.

I reached the bottom of the stairs and wept. I could smell her. I could see her when I tightly shut my eyes. I could hear her, and I wanted so badly to ask her one more time, "Mama, are we making the right decision leaving Kansas?" My whole family had been so supportive of our move. They of course did not want us to go, but graciously let us. My mom was always so good about verbally affirming our choices that stretched us, even though it made her ache. As a little girl, I wanted to say at home forever, but it was my mom who made sure I went to Kindergarten, even though I wanted to stay at the book table with my dad for the rest of my life :)! It was her that insisted I go to summer camp as a little girl, and even volunteered as a counselor to ensure that I would go. During some hard teenage years she would always encourage me to accept invitations to parties and events. And as a newly blushing bride, she reinforced the importance of me 'leaving and cleaving' to my husband as I moved a whopping 9 miles away down the road and thought I was going to melt into a sea of homesickness. And in the end, when second thoughts and insecurities were setting in, she was there to nudge me out door and send me on my way.

 Leading up to those brief moments in the basement I was still hesitating in accepting this invitation to a new life far from home.  It was like I could feel her soft hand grab mine, and I could hear her say to me as she had said countless time in my 31 years, "GO! You can do this. This is the right thing. This is good. There is precious life there waiting for you to live. Be brave! You have never liked being away from home, but you've always done just fine. Now GO!

And in the middle of me wrestling with my second thoughts and insecurities,  there she was there waiting for me, not at the front door this time, but nonetheless, waiting for me, to give me one final nudge out the door and onto a great adventure.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Just Show Me Your Messy

This last year has involved a lot of me being comfortable in my messiness.  Not only being comfortable in my messiness, but allowing others to see and exist in my messiness with me (grief has a unique way of stripping away costumes of falseness if you allow it too).  We are not just talking about my house being a mess, (which let me tell you we've taken 'messy house' to a whole new level these days) but messy on the inside, in the heart, in the core.

There is a temptation to dress up our messiness with disguises. People, families, communities, institutions, schools, governments, colleges, churches, have perfected dressing up brokenness. We cover it up with programs, pretenses, pretending, and pointing to someone else's junk as junkier. It is like when two people fail a test and then one who fails the least brags about their higher failing grade. We are all a mess! Or as they say it here in the south, "We are all a HOT MESS!" ( Sorry Mark, I know nails on a chalk board to your eyes ;)

One of my favorite all time sayings is, "Where two or more are gathered there will be a mess!" Thank you, George Verwer.

As we attempt to join another community, another state, another school, another church, another set of friends, another completely new and foreign way of doing things; I would like to introduce myself and say, "My name is Sara Littlejohn, this is my family, and we are a mess! We are broken, struggling people who serve a great and gentle God, who stooped down to earth over 2,000 years ago to rescue us from US. He is in the business of relationships and redemption.  And this is where do life, in giant holes of messiness!"

The last two churches we have been apart of have really taught us a lot about seeking out other messy sojourners and helping each other limp along the way. Sounds the opposite of the prosperity gospel, eh? But there is is something so precious, so freeing, so alluring about authentic community, organic community.

So here is the organic, behind the scenes truth; it is messy in the land of double wide right now. I already have two children telling me they are not going back to school, one already crying about an assignment that was not even assigned as homework, but was brought home because one could not deal with the stress of it not being completed before she returned Monday morning. *sigh* A brave husband who is starting a new job today, a son who currently thinks that obedience is optional, and a bewildered Mama quoting her favorite author, "What fresh hell is this?!" *sometimes organic includes expletives*

I mean the very keyboard I type upon is a visual reminder of my messed-up-ness. No G, no back space, and tape on my mouse. MESSED UP!

But God has been nudging my heart... leaning heavily on me in the quiet moments of the morning. The message He is inundating me with, "BE HERE! Be RIGHT here, Sara! Let the boxes remain packed til Christmas, but be here in this mess. Lay with Lucy as she sobs her eyes out in the bottom bunk because her six year old little mind cannot fathom a way to communicate to you the way her heart feels out of sync. Walk Julia to her bed for the fifth time in a row, because somewhere deep inside she is begging for more physical contact. Help Katie at eight PM on a Sunday night solve 10 math problems that were never assigned. Do it! Because it makes her feel safe and removes anxiety from her brain. Kiss that bald headed, rotten boy one more time because soon he'll be a man. DO IT! Be here! Help your husband pack his lunch for his first day of work! DO IT! Let the messy rise all around you. Let the imperfection, and unending lists be sacrificed on the alter of your presence alone! BE HERE! And, oh, Sara, I am going to show myself to you in a way that you have never imagined. In this messy, unorganized, out of sync moment you've got going on, I am going to be in it to my neck also, and I am going to refine this mess into something that will take your breath away. Wait here, stop stirring and trying to fix something that was NEVER yours to fix. So please, my sweet, show me your messy, all of it, all of the brokenness, all of the ache, all of the ugly, and then get out of the way!"

Pretty sure this is where I am suppose to be, maybe not where I want to be, but where I am suppose to be, covered in messiness, but perfectly redeemed!